Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Man Behind Rudolph

For my generation, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is inextricably linked with my memories of Christmas. Sharing this is one of many things that make Rosie Booth a kindred spirit of the closest kind. In fact, we both blogged about it within days of each other back in 2006. Here’s her take and here’s mine.

I have Rose to thank for this entry. She recently blogged on her favorite Christmas movies. (I listed my top three here, here and here.) Being a writer at heart, Rosie’s blog made me curious – what group of writers do I have to thank for some of my favorite Christmas specials? The answer was singular – Romeo Muller.

If the show had real heart in it, chances are Mr. Muller wrote it. His credits read like a Who’s Who of favorite Christmas specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, The Stingiest Man In Town and several more Christmas specials. (Mr. Muller also penned a wonderful, although lesser known, holiday special for the Thanksgiving season called Mouse on the Mayflower.)

While writing for the legendary Jack Benny, Muller was discovered by CBS founder William Paley and tapped to write for the prestigious Studio One (he would go on to write one of the show’s most popular episodes). However, it was in 1963 that Muller’s true big break came when he met Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass and began a relationship that would produce iconic television specials.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is universally acknowledged as the most popular holiday special of all time. What isn’t as well known is most of the story was developed by Romeo Muller. Muller supplemented the well-known Johnny Marks song with his characters of Sam the Snowman, Hermey, Clarice, Yukon, the Abdominal Snow Monster, King Moonracer and the Misfit Toys, as well as the other Elves and reindeer.

A biography on says of Muller: “Romeo was a simple man who enjoyed having dinner with friends and watching old movies. He would screen his old movie collection for friends and charitable organizations. He also collected old toy trains and whenever he could write a train into one of his screenplays, he did.”

Romeo Muller’s Christmas specials always seemed to reference the true meaning of Christmas. How appropriate for a man who in 1959 wrote an episode of one of the first religious television programs, Lamp Unto My Feet.

His last project was his favorite. It was a special called Noel about a Christmas Ornament named Noel that brought happiness to whatever household he joined. The oft-repeated line of the show was the cheerful ornament saying, “My name is Noel and I have happiness.” Noel, or Christmas, has as its Latin root natalis or birth. Once again Muller had reminded his viewers of the true meaning of Christmas as it is indeed a birth that brought happiness.

Muller treasured a Christmas card received from a fan with these words: “...Those specials were as much a tradition in my parents’ home as the Christmas tree itself, and have become a tradition with my own children. You must be very proud of the joy you have brought to children all over, even me, a simple girl from the Midwest. Without knowing it, your visit to our homes each Christmas through your specials, was just as important as a visit from Grandma and Grandpa. My son thinks you are the greatest thing since sliced bread and, in all honesty, his mom thinks so too. God bless you during this holiday season, and once again, ‘Thank you’ for everything you’ve given.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Muller was diagnosed with cancer shortly before he died of a heart attack in his sleep, ironically during the season for which he is most famous, Christmas.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Afghanistan Speech

It's Christmas and I'm avoiding political diatribes, so I'm just going to link to Der Spiegel's summary of President Obama's speech. I have friends in Afghanistan. I take this personally.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Money, Money, Money, Money

As most friends know, I have serious concerns about this administration's policies and practices especially regarding their economic effects. One economist I have great respect for is Peter Schiff. He's been right all along. Here's proof.

By the way, seems the Saturday Night Live writers may share some of my concerns. Seen this?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Canine Welcoming

For Veterans Day - Here are some great videos of soldiers being welcomed home by their dogs.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Callous Commander

Insensitivity has been a hallmark of this administration, though rarely pointed out by anyone but conservatives. The President's handling of the Ft. Hood shooting is the latest example. When the mainstream media has reports critical of President Obama, you know things are bad. Here's one of the stories.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Change of Heart Toward Life

The battle over abortion is the front line of the culture war. It is the front line in the fight to redirect our nation to a truly hopeful change and future. Sanctioning the murder of innocent unborn children has created a culture of death that has permeated our society and had a destructive impact on our citizens, most importantly our young people.

My husband teaches Ethics at a local Christian school. One topic discussed is abortion. He pulls no punches in educating the students on just what abortion is. It has been stunning to learn the word has become such a part of our society that some students really didn't know what all was involved in the procedure. Students are horrified as they learn the true gruesomeness of "choice."

It was with great joy I read the story of a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic having a "change of heart" about her pro-choice stance after watching an ultrasound of an abortion being performed. The ultrasound technology has been a wonderful blessing in the Pro-Life fight as it gives us a 3-D view into the womb leaving little doubt that during pregnancy a human being is in residence there. You can see the interview here or read about her conversion here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of Grave Importance

If your tastes tend to run toward the macabre in October, this entry is for you.

Still arguing about whether the guy who played Gilligan is alive or dead? The answer is Bob Denver died several years ago at the age of 70. There is a website wholly devoted to answering your celebrity mortality questions. You can find it here.

In the latest issue of Kentucky Living, there is an article about a cemetery preservation group. These "History Hunters" or "Cemetery Sleuths" have taken on the often arduous task of restoring and documenting neglected burial grounds in Kentucky. They repair, restore and occasionally raise funds to replace missing gravestones. The whole story can be found here, but below is an excerpt which provides a key to understanding symbols often found on gravestones from the work of Gaylord Cooper, author of "Stories Told In Stone: Cemetery Iconology":

Anchor/ships - Hope or seafaring profession
Angel - Rebirth/resurrection
Bird - Eternal life
Full-Blown Rose - Prime of life
Columns and Doors - Heavenly entrance
Corn - Ripe old age
Hands Clasped - Goodbyes said at death
Ivy - Friendship, immortality
Oak Leaves and Acorn - Maturity, ripe old age
Open Book/Bible - Teach, minister, etc.
Thistle - Scottish Descent
Tree - Life

Sometimes a visit to a cemetary is a research endeavor. A few years ago, I plunged into genealogical research on my family. I walked through my paternal side's family cemetery with notebook in hand writing down dates of bith, death and marriages. It was a revelation. My maiden name is Dean, but my ancestors' names were Dean, Deane, Deen and Dane. Seems literacy and uniform spelling wasn't as common in days of old as it is now (and when you add in a southern accent, it's easy to see how the variations came about).

I was fooled into thinking discovering your family tree would be simply by coming across both my maternal and paternal grandmothers' lineages on line going back to the 1500-1600s. I would soon learn the Denton and Parmley branches were the exception, not the rule and that genealogical research is rarely simple.

If you have an interest in genealogy, here's a good place to start. Here are message boards associated with which are usually very helpful.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Kathy Griffin & I Agree. What???!!

Never thought the day would come when the vulgar, D-listed supposed comedienne Kathy Griffin and I would agree on something, but it has happend. Ms. Griffin has actually defended the Tea Party movement as bipartisan. No, really, she has. Here's the proof. Of course, she couldn't do it without a shot at Sarah Palin, but did you really expect that she could?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Turning Our Back on Friends

Predictable and expected though it may be, President Obama's abandonment of missile defense for two allies will only further what is perceived as weakness in the current administration's foreign policy approach. Putin 1, Obama 0.

Here's a British view of it. And another view. I wonder if announcing this on the 70th anniversary of the Soviets invading Poland was purposeful.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Hobbitt is on its way!

Finally the Tolkien family and moviemakers have settled their lawsuit! We can now look forward to a couple of film's based on Tolkien's, The Hobbit. The films are scheduled for release (tentatively) in 2011 and 2012.

Lord of the Rings trilogy director, Peter Jackson, will wear the hat of Executive Producer/Writer this time with Guillermo del Toro directing. While initially disappointed that Jackson would not be directing the two Hobbit films, I'm encouraged that Del Toro has gotten the job. His other films have Christian elements and I very much like his style. If you haven't seen the Hellboy films, give them a try - lots of Christian themes and allusions

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Obama's Time Management Issues

President Obama did not participate in the National Day of Prayer. Okay. I don't like it but would have been more understanding if he had failed to participate in other religious activities. However, he has found time to have a Ramadan dinner at the White House. Makes me think his father influenced him more than he lets on. Here's the video.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't think we have to fear our government? Read this.

I believe Obama is a socialist. I believe he meant it when he said during the campaign that he wanted to revolutionize our nation. I truly believe the change he and his ilk want to bring to our nation will be the destruction of our republic. Think that's hyperbolic language? How about a desire to control the Internet. Wrapped in the terms of emergency security needs, this would give the president the power to disconnect private networks from the Internet. From the recent Iranian dissent to Chinese dissidents to others fighting for freedom behind totalitarian regimes, the Internet is essential for communication. This is one time conservatives and the ACLU are on the same side. Read about it here.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

At the Movies: Last Chance Harvey, Bottle Shock, Transsiberian

Mars Candy Company used to have a great jingle to promote two of their candy bars, Mounds and Almond Joy: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't!" I thought about that jingle recently after watching a few small, independent films. Sometimes I want the blockbusters like Ironman, National Treasure, Transformers - pure mindless fun! On the other hand, there are times where I want a character study, a small, story-driven movie with interesting people. Here are three such movies for your consideration:

For those who love a good glass of wine and a David vs. Goliath story, try Bottle Shock. Based on the true story of Napa Valley's rise to respectability in the wine industry by besting French wines in a taste test by French judges held in France! This event became known as the Judgment of Paris. The movie, while taking a great deal of liberties in its portrayal of the actual people involved, is an entertaining look at Napa Valley when it was inhabited by romantics and hippies (before it became a billion dollar a year industry).

Told through the eyes of Parisian wine shop owner and very British Steve Spurrier and American winery owner and son Jim and Bo Barrett, Bottle Shock serves up family strive, comedic culture clashes, romantic triangles and lots of fun. The cinematography is gorgeous. The wine region is lovingly filmed. It stars the always wonderful Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape to the younger generation), Bill Pullman and Chris Pine (before he was James T. Kirk). Character actor Dennis Farina is a hoot as an American in Paris confidant to Rickman's Steve Spurrier.

Old enough to remember President Reagan's administration and Michael Jackson before he was weird? Then you are old enough to enjoy Last Chance Harvey. This is a grown-up romance starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Although hastily drawn, this character sketch gives us a surprisingly rounded look at Harvey and Kate. There are real cringe-inducing scenes in the film which you will relate to if you have ever felt like the guy wearing brown shoes with a black suit. A chance meeting of the pair results in an unlikely friendship and some self-revelations, including a hesitancy to hope as Kate says, "I'm more comfortable with being disappointed. I'm angry with you for trying to take that away". The movie's plot is predictable, but the accomplished actors make it a very enjoyable journey.

[Bonus: For another grown-up romantic comedy, try Shall We Dance.]

For a more serious movie, there's Transsiberian. This movie will leave you pondering long after the credits role. Remarkable in its positive portrayal of Christians and thought-provoking for the symbolism woven throughout, this movie explores themes which will intrigue the Christian audience. Things to consider: The monologue of the pastor at the beginning of the film, the setting on a mode of transportation, the snow, the lumber falling from a church, the faith of the husband and his rescuing of his bride. The film has a Hitchcock feel to it with great suspense and surprising twists. Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are wonderful as the main leads.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

City by the Bay

I've been singing a particular Journey song a lot lately:

When the lights go down on the City
And the sun shines on the Bay
Oh I wanna be there in my City. . .

I didn't expect to, but the truth of the matter is - I love San Francisco! The city is so eclectic. It's pretty. It's busy. It's quirky. It's modern. It's old. It's impossible to be bored in. Unfortunately, our visit to Fog City wasn't as long as I would have liked, but we still managed to see a lot:
Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 with it's resident seals.

No trip to San Francisco is complete without venturing into Chinatown:

You also have to make the eight turns in a city block down the world's Crookest Street, Lombard Street.

San Francisco has the west's version of Central Park in their Golden Gate Park. One of Mom's favorite areas in the part is their famous Rose Garden. Past All-American Roses are on display in a sensory bit of ground covered in glorious roses and wonderful fragrances:

There's so much more - trolley cars, Alcatraz (as seen from Pier 39) and elaborately decorated houses referred to as Painted Ladies:

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge at twilight time and watched the lights come on in the city. We even did a little walking on the iconic bridge:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Like A Mother To Me

A year ago, I lost my mother-in-law. While the Lord’s timing in her death was a tender mercy, her loved ones still miss her. Here’s my eulogy for her:

Penny was the youngest of five children from her father’s second wife. She was the youngest of his 13 children total! At eight years old, Penny lost her Dad at time when losing the breadwinner was devastating. There was no welfare net and hard times came quickly. While still a child, she went to work. The hardships followed her but didn’t defeat her. She became people savvy and street smart.

Penny loved to dance and would go with girlfriends to the USO to dance with the sailors and soldier boys. Being a good dancer herself, she wasn’t too keen on dancing with a guy who couldn’t keep up. Thankfully for me, Robert Beatty, Sr. could dance! I loved to hear her tell stories of USO experiences or of being an actual “Rosie the Riveter” during war time.

What she lacked in formal education, she made up for with determination and genuineness. As Jesus would say of Nathanael, Penny was a woman in whom was no guile. You always knew where you stood with her and that honesty served her well. At one point, she was an award-winning salesperson for Stanley Products (I have a lovely silver punch bowl thanks to her salesmanship!) before going on to retire from General Electric.

Penny loved horse-racing, but had a selective memory about the experiences – She only remembered the horses on which she won! The last few years, Penny and I would go to Keeneland for the Spring and Fall meets. I had more fun watching Penny than I ever had watching the horses.

“... on her tongue is the law of kindness.” This is what I treasure most about Penny. When her son-in-law was stationed at Ft. Knox, the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners always had room for soldiers who couldn’t get home. I’ve written before about Penny’s Christmas practice of always having extra presents so no one left her home at Christmas empty handed. She also provided presents for her struggling family members’ children.

Penny was childlike in her enjoyment of things. We celebrated Christmas with the Beattys on Christmas Eve and Penny could not wait to open presents. I had made it a practice to give our parents stockings. As soon as she had emptied hers, Penny would toss the stocking back to me with a laughing demand to “Fill it up again.”

When you work fulltime outside the home, housework suffers. During the early years of our marriage, I was not only working fulltime but overtime and my house showed it. I can’t count the number of times I have come home to find my house cleaned and my ironing done by my sweet mother-in-law.

Mother-in-law stereotypes didn’t apply to Penny. If Bobby and I had an argument, Penny was sure I was right. (Quite an accomplishment since Bobby was the apple of his Mom’s eye.)

During the last few months, she didn’t really interact with her surroundings and only responded to specific questions. Until, that is, one afternoon when the Christian care center in which she lived started showing a Gaither Homecoming DVD. Penny began singing the old hymns and songs. These she remembered.

During her last days, Penny would often call out to the Lord. Penny went to be with the Lord in whom she had placed her trust on July 29, 2008, the day after her 80th birthday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Modern, Postmodern, Emergent

There are times I really don't recognize the world in which I live. It looks like the one I grew up in. There are still institutions and soundtracks that I recognize, but something is amiss. When I talk to some of my younger friends or read their books (Blue Like Jazz being just one example), I feel like we are using the same words but speaking a totally different language.

I know the world is different. The Cold War is over (we won, by the way) and new threats are present. Demographics are changing. Things are evolving. I recognize that.

However, I believe in a Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I believe in eternal truths. I believe in absolutes. I thought those were basic Christian beliefs.

I have met people who call themselves Christians and use the same "Christian" jargon I use, but our perspectives are worlds apart. This mystified me. The posters at this link helped me understand.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Eden May Be In Yosemite National Park

Yosemite has been call the Crown Jewel of the national parks system. One visit will show you why that title is so deserved. The waterfalls, rock walls, vistas and sheer natural wonders are so exquisite you'll wonder if they are real or if you are dreaming. To the left is the entrance to Yosemite!

The "sights to see" are incredibly accessible in Yosemite. Even those visitors with physical limitations will enjoy the vast majority of focal points.

Bridal Veil Falls (below) is one of the most beautiful of the waterfalls in Yosemite. A wonderful view of this is available from the parking lot. Closer shots are wonderful (and will get you wet from the spray!).

One of the most famous sights is Tunnel View or sometimes called Inspiration Point. Even as I stood on the lookout, I couldn't believe I was actually seeing this:

Being there in late spring/early summer was a particular blessing because all of the waterfalls were roaring and beautiful. From Glacier Point, the view includes the Nevada and Vernal Falls:

On the trip back from Glacier Point, we happened upon what Yellowstone rangers call a "bear jam" . Fortunately, there were just a couple of cars stopped and when we got out of the car we too got a glimpse of a young bear cub. Bobby ventured down a little into the woods (staying in the woods and out of the meadow where the bear was!). It was then we saw the second bear! This one a full grown bear:

El Capitan, a majestic and imposing granite wall, is one of the most recognizable places in Yosemite:

No matter where you look in Yosemite, there is beauty:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New York Times Descent

Known as "The Grey Lady", the New York Times of old was THE newspaper. All the news fit to print has given way to all the news the White House tells us to print. The liberal agenda has superceded all pretense of journalistic ethics and this once esteemed paper has become the Pravda of America. Here's just one example why their "news" is suspect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Musical Balm

Country music has always had wonderful storytellers and lyricists capable of encapsulating complex emotions in three verses and a chorus. Alan Jackson's new song "Sissy's Song," written on the death of a friend, has become a favorite of mine.

Here's the video and here are the lyrics:

Why did she have to go
So young I just don't know why
Things happen half the time
Without reason without rhyme
Lovely, sweet young woman
Daughter, wife and mother
Makes no sense to me
I just have to believe


She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me
Loved ones she left behind
Just trying to survivee
And understand the why
Feeling so lost inside
Anger shot straight at God
Then asking for His love
Empty with disbelief
Just hoping that maybe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me
It's hard to say goodbye
Her picture in my mind
Will always be of times I'll cherish
And I won't cry 'cause
She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me
Don't worry 'bout me
Don`t worry 'bout me

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fighting Murder by Murder?

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19

A Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions, Dr. George Tiller, was shot to death in his church Sunday. Anti-abortion foes can expect to be painted as vigilantes and decried because of the actions of his murderer. Vigilante justice is not biblical. The power of the sword (execution for crimes) was not given to the church; the power of the keys (excommunication) was. The question that should be asked is: Why was Dr. Tiller, an abortionist, serving as an usher in church? He should have already been excommunicated! The sorry state of churches in this country today speaks volumes as to many of our societal ills.

As a result of this weekend's events, Paul Hill, who took justice into his own hands and killed an abortionist in 1994, will likely be back in the news. Paul Hill wrote to Dr. Gary North trying to justify his actions and Dr. North wrote an excellent reformed response condemning Mr. Hill. You may read North’s response here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sotomayor is SO Too Far To The Left

President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor is representative of why I so vehemently opposed his election. Putting emphasis on empathy (read favoritism) with certain segments of society over others and over constitutional/legal expertise is outrageous. That she lacks the constitutional wherewithal to be a Supreme Court justice is easily proven – she has a 60% reversal rate! Here’s the article.

She has been on record as saying the court is “where policy is made.” Hmmm I thought the constitution gave Congress the responsibility of making laws and the courts the responsibility of interpreting the law. Wasn’t Obama a constitutional scholar? Maybe not. Here’s the link of Ms. Sotomayor’s speech.

Ms. Sotomayor is an activist liberal. The Washington Times’ editor agrees she’s too far to the left. Here’s the story.

Call your congressmen about this one!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blessed Assurance

The next time you’re at a college football game, take a look around at the crowd. A large portion, over 20,000, represents the number of young women and their families with crisis pregnancies Women for Life have helped since 1985.

Assurance Care for Women and Girls, a local pregnancy help center, is my church’s designated home mission agency. We proudly support their work in saving babies and their moms from the devastation of abortion. They also have a wonderful program called Renew that reaches out in love to post-abortion women.

This year at Assurance’s annual Share the Vision fundraising banquet, director Cindy McDaniel presented the agency’s annual report where the bottom line equals lives saved. In 2008, the clinic had:

1766 client visits
310 clients hear the gospel
111 women and their babies
saved from abortion
19 clients give their life to Christ

The 111 women and babies saved from abortion are just the ones the staff knows about. At the banquet, on each table were framed photos of cute babies – babies that were alive today because of the work of Assurance. There were women holding their babies, beaming with pride. Young fathers grinning from ear to ear. These were lives spared – infants and parents alike.

There were some other numbers which are very important:

$1,020 – the cost of the 1020 pregnancy tests given
$83,700 – the cost of the 558 ultrasounds performed - 60% of clients who saw the first beats of their babies hearts choose life

Assurance’s budget for 2008 was $359,099.20 or about $3,235 for each of the 111 choices for life. (Really, it is $1,617 per life saved as both mother and child were spared.)

If you are not involved with a pregnancy help center – get involved. This is the front line in the culture war. If you’re not comfortable with hands on work at the center, get comfortable writing a check. The Lord works through means. Your parents taught you, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The pregnancy centers around our nation know that all too well and need our support. III John teaches that when we support genuine Christians workers we share in their ministry, by becoming “fellow workers for the truth.”

For more information on Assurance, go here. If you’re pregnant and feel abortion is your only option, please go here. You’ll be met with love, not judgment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol & A British Surprise

Here’s a brief recap:

Allison – “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”. Taking on Steven Tyler, the 16-year- old did a great job. I know she has a deep, raspy speaking voice, but sometimes it sounds like she’s singing in a key that’s too low for her.

Anoop – “Everything I Do”. His best performance to date. Loved it.

Adam – “Born To Be Wild”. His performance was over the top and it worked. He really is all that and change - great voice, great performer.

Matt – “Really Love A Woman”. Nice job, but Matt has gone about as far as he’s gonna go.

Danny – “Endless Love.” This actually brought tears to my eyes. It was a wonderful, heartfelt performance.

Kris – “Falling Slowly.” I wasn’t familiar with this song and didn’t get all the words, but I love this kid.

Lil – “The Rose.” I loved the first part, but when she “changed it up”, she lost me, lost pitch, lost it.

Here’s how I would rate them:


Should be going home? Lil. Might be going home? Matt.

Now, from Britain’s Got Talent, check out this reminder not to judge a book by its cover.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Travel Lessons and Easter

In their book, Just Visiting, George and Karen Grant write of how travel used to be considered an essential part of a person’s education. Traveling to other places gives you a broader perspective on the world than can be developed by staying in your hometown.

Living in Kentucky, my American experience is substantially different than that of a woman growing up in Detroit or someone living in Cody, Wyoming. As you travel across the United States, you discover it’s more than geography that changes, it’s lifestyles. In Kentucky, life pauses for March Madness. (If a Kentucky team is playing, life screeches to a halt.) In New Mexico and other western states, it’s not basketball that causes disruption, but rodeo season. Those growing up in the north might say the same about hockey. The preferred sport and life in general is different from state to state.

Traveling has more to teach us than just lifestyle variances. I spent a week in Magdalena, New Mexico during my summer missionary stint. In 1986, Magdalena was a dying town. Vacant buildings and decay were visible everywhere. Unemployment and other social stressors were the norm. Yet, these vacant buildings once were occupied by thriving businesses. The abandoned motel that served as a skateboard park for local teenagers once had its rooms and parking lots filled with travelers. The same was true of my visit to New Haven, Connecticut in the early 90s. The home of Yale University was boarded-up and economically depressed where it had once been a thriving city.

Travel to Europe and the lesson is more vivid. Travelers visit ruins of once powerful city states. Vienna, now a beautiful tourist stop, was a powerful political force – once. The sun never set on the British Empire – once. Rome was more than a city in Italy; it ruled the known world – once.

There’s a new country music song, “Shutting Detroit Down”. While its lyrics decry the bailout and bonuses of Wall Street, the title struck me as prophetic. Just because Detroit is the Motor City now doesn’t mean it always shall be.

Life is not static. “Panta rhei,” or “Everything flows,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The river you step into today is not the same river you will step into tomorrow. Things change. How reluctant we are to admit this. We want to believe tomorrow will be like today, only better. Our sense of entitlement to constancy is illusory.

The other component of Heraclitus’ thought, however, was that the Logos was the fundamental order of all. He was on to something. The Logos or the Word is indeed fundamental. When constancy in this world cannot be found and flux and upheaval raise anxiety levels, it’s good to remember with the Apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [overcome] it.”

That’s the power of Easter, the hope and security of putting our trust in the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wishing we had a politician like this!

Have you seen this clip? Where is a statesman on this side of the pond who has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to this current administration and say this?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Corrective

Dear Readers:

I have been heavy on Frivolity and light on Faith as of late. I hereby promise more substantial entries will be posted soon. Blame it on Mitford - reading these books, it's hard not to be lighthearted.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol Recap

Grand Ol' Opry was the theme tonight and I was disappointed. With the songs available, I expected great things and and except for Anoop, there were no standout performances.

The GOOD: Anoop!! I like this guy. He is a nice, intelligent young man who finally is showing that he also can sing. Yah for a breakout moment.

How can Allison just be 16? The girl has a great voice (but I thought she went flat a lot).

Kris put a new spin on an old song and I didn't recognize the Garth standard. Nice job.

I am not an Adam fan (too much of a flamer for me), but his eastern taken on Ring of Fire was weird enough to be good.

Danny gave another solid performance, but I expected more.

Megan was a pleasant surprise.

THE BLAH: Lil Rounds has the voice, but the song wasn't right for her.

Alexis chose the wrong song and again wasn't as good as she should have been.

Matt did a nice job, but I don't get the infatuation with him.

Michael's attempt at Garth was bad. His voice couldn't keep up with the rapid fire lyrics and he seemed to be dragging at times.

Everyone of Scott's songs sound the same to me.

I really hope Dial Idol has the bottom three wrong this week.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Divine Engravings

One of my dear friends has just written a post that encapsulates an aspect of God's love in a beautiful way. I heartily recommend it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol Redux

Every year we hear “most talented group ever” from Ryan Seacrest and company. This year, it might just be the truth. I already have my favorites, but first a quick recap:

Lil Rounds - “The Way You Make Me Feel” – Vocals good, but song wasn’t challenging enough for her. Wasn’t as impressed as I expected to be.

Scott MacIntyre - “Keep the Faith” – Okay. Here goes: If this guy wasn’t blind, we wouldn’t be hearing him on American Idol. Period. Nice voice, but there are hundreds of “nice voices” out there.

Danny Gokey - “Pretty Young Thing” – Disclaimer: He is one of my favorites. I love his voice. I loved his performance. I hope he makes it to the end.

Michael Sarver - “You’re Not Alone” – Every year we have an Everyman in the competition. Someone with a nice voice, talented, and winsome. This year it’s Michael. He’ll stay for awhile based on his likeability.

Jasmine Murray - “I’ll Be There” – I was thrilled when she was brought back on the Wild Card show, but I didn’t like this at all. Sounded like a high school talent show entry.

Kris Allen - “Remember the Time.” – I’m betting Kris stays until the middle of the season. He’s cute and appealing. His song, in the immortal words of Randy Jackson, was just alright for me.

Allison Iraheta - “Give it to Me” – Wow! She’s got vocal chops! I like the rocker chick and hopes she stays around a while. Kinda agree with Simon, if she doesn’t lighten up she might become a one-trick pony.

Anoop Desai - “Beat It” - Anoop gets ragged on by the judges and deservedly so. He did a Michael Jackson impersonation – but I still voted for the guy. He’s just so likeable. Think he’s safe until mid-season.

Jorge Nunez - “Never Can Say Goodbye” – I like him better when I close my eyes and just listen to him sing. He’ll go out in the early rounds (8-9).

Megan Joy Corkrey - “Rockin’ Robin” – I don’t get the infatuation with Megan. Just. Don’t. Get. It. Hoping she’s one of the two gone, but Vote For The Worst has made her its beneficiary.

Adam Lambert - “Black and White” – Too much personal information about Adam was gained this week, but still – He Can Sing! He and Danny are the best of the lot, in my humble opinion.

Matt Giraud - “Human Nature” – Another one I don’t get. Nice job, I just don’t see what the judges see in him.

Alexis Grace - “Dirty Diana” – I agree with Simon. It wasn’t as good as she and the audience thought it was, but it did give the impression of being that good. Probably top 5.

I agree with the top four on Dial Idol, but I’m shocked by their bottom two.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Moving to Mitford

I typically don’t like modern Christian fiction - my usual adjective for these is vapid. Reading Christian romance novels, I am convinced, is a form of torture! Whatever the latest fiction series creating buzz in the Christian bookstores, it will not get a moments’ notice from me.

My Mom, however, discovered Jan Karon’s Mitford Series and fell in love with the books. She devoured the nine installments and spoke wistfully of re-reading them. For Christmas, I came across several of the books at Half Price Books for $1 and had an epiphany. This would be one of Mom’s Christmas presents – the whole Mitford Series! She was delighted! The only problem – she just knew I would love them as much as she did and so I had to read them. My (unspoken) reaction? Ugh.

I love my Mom dearly and thought it would be nice to have something to discuss, so when she brought the first three books in the series to me, I dutifully began reading, albeit with a heavy sigh. After the first few chapters, I realized Mama truly does know best. I love Mitford.

I immediately fell for Father Tim, the bachelor Episcopal priest, who in his sixties discovers love with his new neighbor Cynthia. Tim is a loving man, but has people he has trouble tolerating, even in his own congregation! He is a diabetic who sneaks sugar. In other words, Father Tim is a real person and not some idealized priest.

The other characters are just as winsome. I want to sit on Miss Sadie’s porch and sip tea while she tells me stories or listen to Uncle Billy’s jokes while avoiding his wife Rose’s cooking. Mostly, I want to scratch Father Tim’s big black dog Barnabas on his head.

Karon has created a literary Mayberry. It’s a place of simple pleasures and nicely tied up stories. Life circumstances always have a happy ending in this little town. There will be no shocking twists; plotlines are telegraphed well in advance. This is a place where all is right with the world or will be in just a chapter or two.

With the stock market tanking and concerns over the direction in which our country is being led, like Rascal Flats, I miss Mayberry. This is precisely why now is the time to discover Mitford. It is a wonderful respite from a stressful life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Religion of Peace?

Over and over again politicians and TV commentators tell us that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by extremists. I reject this view and maintain it is, at its core, a violent and vicious religion. Here's a story ofa westernized Muslim who founded a TV station with the goal of protraying his religion in a more positive light. The only problem is he just beheaded his wife - in Buffalo, New York!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Still Defending Harry

Although the furor over the books has died down, new readers are still discovering the wonderful world of Harry Potter. I’ve already posted my defense of the books and why I believe they are wonderfully edifying reads for Christians. Here now is Jerram Barr, Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture at Covenant Theological Seminary, and his much more indepth and eloquent endorsement of the Harry Potter series.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


A friend of mine just posteda link to a blog with this mind-blowing quote from our Hypocrite-in-Chief at the National Prayer Breakfast:

(F)ar too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another - as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered ... all in the name of perceived righteousness...But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

Obama actually said:

“There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being.
This much we know.”
If he feels that way, why did President Obama made it a prior to end U.S. restrictions on funding abortion? Good grief.

"...he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:8

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Jurassic Park as NONfiction?

I confessed in an earlier blog post that “Jurassic Park” is one of my favorite movies. When Sam Neill’s character, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant first sees the dinosaurs, the actor’s expression sells me on the movie. I’m right there with Dr. Grant experiencing the wonder of seeing long-extinct animals. Maybe one day “Jurassic Park” won’t just be a work of fiction according to this London Telegraph article.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The blood of innocents

I had a lot of people tell me the abortion issue was a "nonissue" in the last presidential election because the occupant of the Oval Office really didn't have an impact on abortion.

Really? With a stroke of his pen and acting as our corporate head, President Obama is putting the blood of innocents again on our hands. Here's the story.

The first black president is now contributing to a black genocide - 4 out of 10 pregnancies among black women end in abortion.

That is change - an immoral one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What You Meant For Evil . . .

Not being a multimillionaire with loads of moolah in his investments, I have read about the Bernard Madoff scandal with minimal interest. Until today. Seems Mr. Madoff's scheming has hurt Planned Parenthood. Way to go, Bernie!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2001 Things To Do Before You Die

If I were given to conspiracy theories, right about now I’d be swearing one was underfoot to make me do a New Year’s retrospective post. They are all around me. My good friend Rosie reviewed 2008 on her blog. Coral highlighted some of the 93 books she read this year. (Yes, you read that correctly, 93! She is a reading machine!)

Bobby and I recently saw The Bucket List which, of course, leaves the viewer reflective. And last but not least, while cruising through the Bargain Books section of Barnes & Noble, I came across a little book that intrigued me: 2001 Things To Do Before You Die by Dane Sherwood. Interest piqued, I bought the book, sharpened a No. 2 pencil and began checking off items on its list.

When I saw the first item, I began to giggle. “Be an extra in a movie.” Check. Thanks to Ben Rogers, a former student of Bobby’s and a current Asbury film student, that goal was accomplished in early December!

I was surprised by how many of these completely random items I could check off: Ride an elephant – check.

Learn to drive a stick shift – check.

Like a piece of art without knowing why – check.

Walk across a suspension bridge – check. [Royal Gorge, Colorado]

Savor moonshine – check (long story!).

Fall head over heels in love – Check.

There were also a lot that I will never check off: Wake up next to Brad Pitt. Shave your head. Be on “American Idol.” Retire young (too late!).

There are a few I would love to check off: Live in Wyoming or Montana. Learn to ride Western like the Marlboro Man. Pay respect at the beaches of Normandy. Ride a gondola in Venice.

Here’s a few I hope to check off in the next year or so: Wine-tasting in Sonoma County, California. Throw a coin in the Fontana di Trevi in Rome. Touch the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square. Shoot a crossbow (Wii counts, right?)

I have a personal Bucket List, but this little book has given me more ideas. I hope to put a lot more checks in its boxes during 2009.